Bon­nie Stern’s three favourite Vikram Vij recipes.

VAN­COU­VER’S VIKRAM VIJ MADE A NAME FOR HIM­SELF WITH THESE DE­LI­CIOUS RECIPES

National Post (National Edition) - - NEWS - BON­NIE STERN

Vikram Vij is rec­og­niz­able to most as the suc­cess­ful Van­cou­ver restau­ra­teur, tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity, celebrity chef and au­thor of three cook­books. But when you read his new mem­oir, Vij: a Chef’s One Way Ticket to Canada with In­dian Spices in his Suit­cases, you learn about the chal­lenges he faced com­ing to Canada and mak­ing a name for him­self.

Vikram’s story about his spirit of en­trepreneur­ship and lov­ing his new coun­try but in­cor­po­rat­ing some of the tra­di­tions of his home­land, can’t help but res­onate with the im­mi­gra­tion is­sues in our cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate. When Pierre El­liott Trudeau came to Vij’s award-win­ning and now world fa­mous restau­rant in Van­cou­ver, Vikram was able to thank him per­son­ally for Canada’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies of the 1960s that en­abled him to come to Canada.

Here are three recipes that I have al­ways loved at Vij’s restau­rant.

VIJ’S CHAI

Vij’s has a no reser­va­tion pol­icy — even for VIPs. But that doesn’t mean the restau­rant doesn’t ap­pre­ci­ate their cus­tomers. Every guest is wel­comed with chai and ap­pe­tiz­ers and wait­ing in line is like a party! Vij’s wife and busi­ness part­ner, Meeru Dhal­wala, de­vel­oped this recipe orig­i­nally and it’s still the one they serve to­day.

In his mem­oir, Vij says that Meeru has al­ways been in charge of the all-fe­male kitchen staff. She in­sists that all the food in their restau­rants is pre­pared by im­mi­grant women who do not have restau­rant or chef ex­pe­ri­ence. It is her way of giv­ing women the chance her mother never had when she moved to North Amer­ica.

5 1/2 cups water 15 green car­damom pods, lightly crushed 1 1/2 tsp fen­nel seeds 5 or­ange pekoe tea bags 1 to 2 tbsp su­gar, or to taste 3/4 cup whole milk

1. Place water, car­damom and fen­nel in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Re­duce heat and sim­mer gen­tly 2 min­utes.

2. Add tea bags and su­gar and boil one to two min­utes or longer de­pend­ing on how strong you like your tea. Re­move tea bags.

3. Add milk and cook about a minute longer. Strain chai into a teapot and serve.

Makes 6 cups

LAMB ‘POPSICLES’ WITH CURRY CREAM

Vij’s lamb ‘popsicles’ are as de­li­cious to­day as they were the first time I tasted them 20 years ago. Serve three or four as a main course with the sauce, or serve in­di­vid­u­ally as an ap­pe­tizer with the sauce for dip­ping.

This and the potato recipe are adapted from Meeru and Vij’s first cook­book El­e­gant and In­spired Vij’s In­dian Cui­sine. 1/4 cup grainy mus­tard 2 tbsp white wine 1/2 tsp kosher salt 2 racks of lamb (Frenched) (about 8 chops each) (about 2 lbs to­tal), cut be­tween the bones into chops sauce: 3 tbsp veg­etable oil 2 large cloves gar­lic, finely chopped (about 1 tbsp) 1 tsp turmeric 2 cups whip­ping cream 1 1/2 tsp dried fenu­greek leaves

1 tsp kosher salt (or more to taste) 1/2 tsp pa­prika 1/2 tsp cayenne pep­per 1 tbsp lemon juice

1. Com­bine mus­tard, wine and salt. Smear over the lamb chops and mar­i­nate up to a few hours in the re­frig­er­a­tor.

2. Gen­tly heat veg­etable oil in a saucepan. Add gar­lic and cook un­til lightly golden. Add turmeric and cook about one minute. Com­bine fenu­greek, salt, pa­prika, cayenne and lemon juice with cream and add to saucepan. Heat gen­tly and cook about five to 10 min­utes un­til slightly thick­ened.

3. Just be­fore serv­ing cook lamb chops on the bar­be­cue or in a grill pan a few min­utes per side — they should be rare. Serve with sauce.

Makes 4 serv­ings

TURMERIC POTA­TOES WITH SPINACH

These pota­toes are per­fect with the lamb popsicles but would be equally de­li­cious with grilled steak or sal­mon. 3 tbsp veg­etable oil 1 large onion, thinly sliced 1 tsp turmeric 2 tsp kosher salt 1/2 tsp cayenne pep­per 2 lbs baby pota­toes, sliced about 1/4” thick

1/4 cup water or more if nec­es­sary

3 oz baby spinach

1. Heat oil in a large, non­stick heavy skil­let. Add onions and cook un­til just turn­ing golden. Add turmeric, salt and cayenne. Cook one more minute.

2. Add pota­toes and com­bine with onions. Add water, cover and cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally 10 to 20 min­utes un­til pota­toes are just ten­der. Add more water if pota­toes stick.

3. Just be­fore serv­ing add spinach and cook just un­til slightly wilted.

Makes 4 serv­ings Na­tional Post

TYLER ANDERSON / NA­TIONAL POST

Vikram Vij’s lamb ‘popsicles’ with tumeric pota­toes are as scrump­tious as ever, Bon­nie Stern writes.

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